Figure 2.2 explains it all

Eli Rabett is working his way through Taken By Storm. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this work, it's a global warming denial book which contains some spectacularly Bad Physics, with the authors claiming that average temperature has no physical meaning. Anyway, Rabett is reading chapter two, and finds he needs to create a EssexMcKitrictionary. Here's an extract:

Doctrine of Certainty - the idea that anyone besides Essex (and maybe McKitrick) can know anything. Obviously false. Often called "The Doctrine" includes items that are "manifestly false or the claim to know it is false". The first tenent is that "The earth is warming". Well yeah, guys, it is.

The Convection of Certainty - a gathering storm whereby people who study something and are experts come to a consensus. Obviously they are not as smart as Chris Essex (and maybe Ross McKitrick)

Official Science - The Convection of Certainty as conveyed to the public and policy makers by those ignorant experts who claim to know more than Chris Essex (and maybe Ross McKitrick) about climate.

There's more, but you don't really get the full idea of EssexMcKitrish without their figure 2.2, shown below.


If you are wondering about arrow E, it represents "regular scientists dropping out of the whole debate. Despite what the Big Panel and Official Science claim, the majority of regular scientists in the world want nothing to do with this debate anymore." So there you go.


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Arrow E clearly represents a sharp turn to the right, which is the strategy recommended by the authors.

I dunno. That diagram strikes me as all very scienfic.

("Scienfic". What an apt neologism for the whole AGW project.)

In (D), the future climate contrarian is shocked when his favorite argument is shot down.

In (E), he decides he'd rather be unapologetic than right, and flushes his scientific credibility down the toilet.

Bugger, that should have read "anti-AGW project". Good thing I'm no scientist.

Any minute Tim will return from his reading of basic thermodynamics texts, with an explanation for why a mean temperature IN A NON-EQUILIBRIUM SYSTEM has no physical meaning.

Any minute now....

John, you may perhaps have heard the expression local thermodynamic equilibrium?

Theoretically speaking NOTHING is at equilibrium before the end of time. Practically speaking it is hard to find systems which are not, or which cannot be divided into regions that are. Please point us to a region of the atmosphere under say 100km where this is not the case.

"Taken by Storm" by Christopher Essex and Ross Mckitrick

I am amazed over this book.

Why should two scholars write such nonsense? They are loosing all their credibility. However if you look at this book in the context of the misinformation plan American Petroleum Institute/ExxonMobile set up years ago in respect of the Kyoto Protocol, it is understandable.

It is possible to use this book in a debate over CO2 and climate change in the following way:

"Two respected scholars have written a very good book. From this book it follows that

-the global temperature does not exist
-the average global temperature is meaningless

In other words the global temperature and global warming does not exist at all. Global warming only exists in the minds of NGO?s and scientists. You are consequently free to burn oil and coal as you please."

The man on the street is not able to understand the nonsense they have written. He will in many cases believe in them. This exactly what American Petroleum Institute/ExxonMobile wants.

Please note:

The temperature is a well established concept in physics. The global average temperature can be estimated by using stand statistical estimation methods.

To show that the average is meaningless Essex and McKitrick are saying:

"It is possible to calculate an average telephone number of all telephone numbers in USA. However it is not certain, that the average telephone number is a valid telephone number. In the same way the average for global temperature does not exist. "

The two authors are mixing two concepts:"A key to a database" and "An estimator for the parameters in a probability distribution"

For me it is a great pleasure to read these nonsense arguments.

In addition this they are using a couple of strange abbreviations on page 314:

PUN is their abbreviation for IPCC. PUN means "a humorous play on words."
SPAM is use "Summary for Policymakers" - SPAM means "junk e-mail..."

re: Eli Rabett | February 18, 2006 12:13 AM
You're using LTE as an argument to "no physical meaning for earth's Global Average Temperature (GAT)?" Will you explain and physically justify LTE in earth's natural atmosphere, across the energy spectrum (or other equilibrium-busting factors), and over unit time? And after that, will you integrate that into a physics- or thermodynamics-recognized physical meaning of the earth's GAT? Go ahead and take you're best shot. Thermodynamicists around the world really want to know.

KFL clearly hasn't studied thermodynamics and/or is deliberately misrepresenting Drs. Essex and McKitrick positions on temperature. KFL, like WebsterHubbleTelescope, and Dr Lambert also have little/no formal education in this tough subject. But you showed some promise of at least reading and understanding some of the concepts, that is when you weren't making errors interpreting subscripts in peer-reviewed thermodynamics (among other topics).

Regarding your side effort, please finish your actual review of TBS. Maybe you can find some errors outside of the corrections posted on the TBS site. There are a few (not big ones, mind you) -- a student of therm's like you should be able to find at least one. Start with those proposed by KFL, Dr Lambert and WHT. BTW, are you getting close to changing the board layout, to win at AGW Bingo?

Dr Lambert- please prioritize reopening of the old Deltoid therm's threads for new comment. There are reasonable arguments, well underway; and then we won't have to repeat (non-thermo) KFL's rehashing of old concepts.

By John McCall (not verified) on 25 Mar 2006 #permalink

John MCall,

I believe that kfl has accurately characterized E&M's argument. If you have some specific objection, please share it with us.

I don't know when I will be able to move the old posts over here. It's not under my control. If you want to defend E&M, there are several posts here already. I plan some more posts on the book -- there is plenty more stupid stuff in there.

Hey John, simply, I can measure the energy distribution in quantum states averaged across volumes of the atmosphere. When I do this, I find that the translational, rotational and vibrational temperatures are the same (subject to fluctuations of the size expected for the volume that I measure in). One of the ways that I can do this is look at emission in the IR.

As pointed out in another thread, I can divide the total energy by the total heat capacity, either for the entire atmosphere, or for some layer of it.

John MCall,
Sorry I am really amazed over what your are writing.

Please give references to peer reviewed paper showing that the temperature does not exist and can't be measured.

Who made these observations ? and When ? Was it before or after 1860 ?

I am looking forward to read you.


You're right. I am much too busy to spend time trying to get you to understand basic science and thermodynamics in particular. I have two parallel computer projects to work on that must be completed by the end of August and cannot spare the time for your basic education.

However to help you along to try to reduce very slightly your current state of extreme ignorance allied to extreme arrogance (a state we trollologists call "arrognorance"), here are a couple of pages to help you on your way:

A definition of entropy:

and a short quiz (see question 67):…

Now remember to choose carefully, Tim.

By the way, Eli, I know what "local thermodynmic equilibrium is", but what I don't know is where or when any part of the Earth's atmosphere can be described as in "local thermodynamic equilibrium". Since the real atmosphere is turbulent and in constant energy exchange at all scales, "local thermodynamic equilibrium" is as rare as one of Lambert's apologies.

Unfortunately, Tim doesn't know what the difference is between "equilibrium", "local equlibrium" and "non-equilibrium". Perhaps you could help him.

Dear John, if there is no local thermodynamic equilibrium, you cannot measure a temperature anywhere in the atmosphere. Since you clearly can, you need to to discuss this with your local weather forecasters and probably with Augie Auer, poor benighted souls.

God help me, I think I suddenly understand what the "no-average-temperature" folks are trying to get at.

Since temperature is just a measure of kinetic energy, averaging kinetic energy should enable averaging of temperature. And we can get there by averaging temperature, weighted by mass*specific heat. But if we don't know mass*specific heat.... i.e. what's the mass*specific heat of London, vs. that of Moscow? If the temp goes up 1 degree in Moscow and down 1 degree in London, does that mean no net change on average?

I think that's what they may have a glimmer of, without perhaps the ability to express it. Hopefully I did better. Of course, the more points are moving in concert, vs in opposition, the less of a problem this is.

This "John A." is the same guy who, in a comment thread on
SourceWatch, tried to argue that temperature was a *vector* field, right ?

By Robert P. (not verified) on 22 May 2006 #permalink

"This "John A." is the same guy who, in a comment thread on SourceWatch, tried to argue that temperature was a vector field, right ?"

I remember somebody using those words, can't say who it was. Definitely rings a bell when you read something like that. Coming tomorrow: "The Spinor Theory of Colors" (Colours if you prefer)

Mr. Rabett, I repeat...

"Will you explain and physically justify LTE in earth's natural atmosphere, across the energy spectrum (or other equilibrium-busting factors), and over unit time? And after that, will you integrate that into a physics- or thermodynamics-recognized physical meaning of the earth's GAT? Go ahead and take you're best shot. Thermodynamicists around the world really want to know.",

It's been over 6 months and you still haven't done so. Your shallow answer does not answer what I asked, nor does it show how globally averaging let's say 10,000 local ground temperature readings provide physical meaning any better than averaging telephone numbers, as Drs Essex and McIntyre contend.

Take your lightweight answer and build it into a paper acceptable for publishing in any of the recognized thermodynamics magazines! KFL's ignorance is as obvious as his absurd moving definitions/terms of what E&M claim -- it only gets worse, the more he posts. But your inadequate response -- one presumed you know better? Go ahead and counter the simple thermodynamic truth of E&M. The smugness of your answer reminds me of when you failed to recognize the variety of octane isomers in gasoline combustion -- the horror of your chemistry position on that argument. You may be a fair to middling chemist (left to others to judge), but as a physicist and thermodynamics student, you're well below adequate for engaging the TBS authors.

Flesh out your inadequate and juvenile concept out, and get it accepted/published in a recognized thermodynamics journal. Your arguments using LTE and the average of 1000s of ground station temps to justify the physical meaning of GAT in recognized thermodynamics, should be readily adopted and published by a therm's journal (given the importance and imminent "tipping point" dynamics of the AGW debate). I can't wait for your prepublishing notification of acceptance -- let us all know, ASAP!

Until then, stick to posting about chemistry where the indexes and content are easier for you to understand then that in the thermodynamics you butcher. And if you can't or choose not to do it (i.e. publish your LTE-GAT position), find somebody else who has published in a peer-reviewed thermodynamics journal, explaining the physical meaning of averaging 1000s of temp ground station readings (with or without LTE) to generate a GAT of thermodynamic significance.

As I said before, "Thermodynamicists around the world really want to know."

By John McCall (not verified) on 06 Oct 2006 #permalink

Ho, ho! John, thanks for reminding me that I need to do another post on TBS. And, how do you think Lott's lawsuit against Levitt is going to turn out?

Clarification/correction regarding the E&M analogy (paraphrased from TBS p.144-5): "show how globally averaging let's say 10,000 local ground temperature readings provide physical meaning any better than averaging telephone numbers."
Does sampling and averaging locally meaningful ground temperatures, provide a thermodynamically/physically meaningful "Global Temperature" - does sampling and averaging (meaningful) local telephone numbers, give communications relevance to a "Global Mean Telephone Number?"

Dr Lambert - still think KFL characterized (or even understands) the E&M argument, with posts such as the absurd, "please give references to peer reviewed paper showing that the temperature does not exist and can't be measured?"

re: Dr Lott vs Dr Levitt -- haven't followed it much. Has one of them written something as thermodynamically goofy as KFL, Mr Rabett or worse, that thermodynamically naked little emperor, who frequents this boarD?

By JohnMcCall (not verified) on 21 Oct 2006 #permalink

A glass of water at 10 degrees. Another glass of water (same mass) at 20 degrees. You think there is no physical meaning to the concept of average temperature of the system?

It's amazing that you will defend E&M's nonsense.

Thermopylae 2006-7 REVERSED (a.k.a. "3"): Deltoid's Dr Lambert, guest contributor Mr Rabett and the invading hoards of the "AGW Catastrophae" are thermodynamically stopped in their Global Average Temperature (GAT) tracks in:

"Does a Global Temperature Exist?" By: Essex, Christopher; McKitrick, Ross; Andresen, Bjarne. Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics, 2007, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p1-27, 27p; DOI: 10.1515/JNETDY.2007.001.

Even the normally competent views of Robert P. take a hit; and he's always been (thermodynamically) your strongest rep. For most of the rest of you, the message is the same -- come back and argue when you actually understand thermodynamics. Finally and unfortunately, that leaves no hope for some like the thermodynamically naked little emperor who trolls the climate boards.

Oh and to paraphrase the challenge in the post of October 7, 2006 01:21 AM:

Thermodynamicists around the world already knew you don't know what you're talking about -- but it's part of science for you to try to change that perception.

You're citing Essex and McKitrick to support Essex and McKitrick? Don't you see a problem with that?

The paper is a hoot -- thanks for pointing it out.

More sub-undergrad level stupidity from Essex. Yes mccall, let thermodynamicists classify themselves by their reaction to this stuff. Please!

Still the thermodynamic pretender, eh Mr Rabett; I thought you had retired? One would think you would be more circumspect in your touts, after your embarrassing thermodynamics gaffs in:…

And you even have the temerity to post a "pinata" link to Rabett Run. Well if it's blog hits you want Mr Rabett, link your loyal but misguided sheep to more of your therm's gaffs in:…

and the especially hilarious gaff in:

You need papers containing undergraduate thermodynamics, Mr. Rabett, cause these links (especially the last), show you butchering the graduate level therm's papers. Oh, and we're still waiting for you to publish your beliefs in a recognized thermodynamics journal -- if that never comes, at least have the humility and grace to post a corrections page.

Note to Dr Lambert re "citing Essex and McKitrick to support Essex and McKitrick." Please edit your CV to reflect your graduation with honors from "Dr Naomi Oreskes' Correspondence School of Absolute Statistics." Are you actually criticizing the common practice of citing one's earlier papers to support new work (for just 2 out of 17, in their primary references)? Stay close to the phone - the hockey team will soon be calling to order you to stop throwing stones inside their glass house. BTW, that Am. J. Phys paper of the two Essex references was the one where most dined on Rabett stew, after Mr Rabett's ill advised attempt to discredit.

Letter to U.N. Department of Urban Blight: please bulldoze Dr Lambert's Neighborhood Thermodynamique and the associated therm-sprawl that is part of Rabett Run. These have become unsightly thermodynamic eyesores of less than dubious value. Even Robert P, the only poster consistently demonstrating knowledge of therm's, has moved out of the neighborhood! You may elect to keep the rest of these blogs - it's the therm's that really stink up the place.

Err, McCall. All they do in the paper is repeat the discredited arguments from "Taken by Storm". This does not constitute proof. If he felt that they were right, don't you think that McIntyre would be promoting their ideas? Instead he bans discussion of the topic...

Correction: (for just 2 out of 19, in their primary references)?

re: "discredited arguments from "Taken by Storm"?" Hand-waving, Dr Lambert? And what does Mr. McIntyre have to do with this? Oh, I see - correction to my post on October 7, 2006 01:21 AM:
"as Drs Essex and McKitrick contend"

To continue "discredited ..." - you're using Mr Rabett for therm's and Dr Oreske's (or at least her "unanimous stat's techniques") as technical consultants. That's already been shown to be unwise - are you consciously trying to devalue the otherwise good work you've done? I'll stick with Dr Essex (and most of the rest of the therm's folks who actually understand the subject).

Perhaps you're right about one thing in bringing Mr McIntyre up -- you were repeatedly cautioned about delving ill-equipped into thermodynamics ... Mr McIntyre needed no such warning to stay clear of it.

All of this from the wretched Lambert - the man who discovered that irreversible thermodynamic changes happen without change of entropy and that cold flows to hot - so I guess all those physics textbooks going back to the 19th Century will have to be rewritten in the post-Lambert-has-spoken world.

Most impressive.

Do you think Lambert will ever manage to produce a peer-reviewed paper refuting Essex/McKitrick/Andresen? Or carp on his weblog in front of commenters even more ignorant of physics that he is?

I know which scenario my money is on.

Hey McCall, why don't you start your own blog and explain what Rabbets errors in thermodynamics are?
Bonus points if you can do it in a way which is easily comprehensible to lay people.

To John A & John McCall.

As I understand it, local sites are, generally speaking, more or less in thermodynamic equilibrium, ergo the temperature can be measured, and contriutes towards measuring the increase in energy at the local site.

The global situation is that the global atmosphere is not in equilibrium, therefore there is no scientific defined average temperature.


That temperatures are going up or down is utterly irrelevant in themselves. What does matter is what happens as a result of temperatures going up or down. If the temperature goes up above zero on an iceberg, it will melt. If temperature goes up on a field there is an increased chance of draught, etc. Now these things can be averaged and do matter. Scientists (and others) do measure and forecast the amount of polar cap loss, number and intensity of droughts, and perhaps more recently hurricane activity, etc.

Or are you saying that if sea levels rise, it does not matter? That if hurricanes become more intense, it does not matter? That if the number of droughts increases, it does not matter?

By Meyrick Kirby (not verified) on 18 Mar 2007 #permalink